How can prostate cancer be detected?

By the age of 85 a man has a one in five risk of developing prostate cancer.

In its early stages the disease may not produce significant or obvious symptoms making diagnosis and early intervention difficult in some cases.

For many men prostate cancer is often curable if detected early, particularly if the disease is confined to the prostate gland. It is therefore important that men who are either 50 years of age and older and/or have a family history of the disease have regular checkups with their GPs.

The most common methods used to detect warning signs associated with prostate cancer are the PSA test (prostate-specific antigen test) and the DRE (digital rectal examination).

Blood Test (PSA Test): Found in the blood, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by the cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the amount of the PSA protein in a man’s blood sample. Once a blood sample is taken it is sent to the laboratory for testing. The higher the PSA level, the more chance that prostate cancer is present.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): Where the doctor examines the prostate for any irregularities in shape and size.

If either of these tests confirm a patient may be at risk of prostate cancer, the doctor will then arrange a biopsy. A biopsy is when an urologist removes small samples of tissue from the prostate, which is then sent off to test if the cells are cancerous or non-cancerous.

What can you do to keep your prostate healthy?

It’s very difficult to prevent a prostate cancer diagnosis, but there are many lifestyle choices men can make to lower their risk and keep the prostate healthy. These include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing intake of fats, including red meat and dairy products
  • Eating more fish – Fish like salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and other ‘good fats’ that help keep the prostate healthy.
  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables – Increase intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods.
  • Avoiding smoking and only drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Making efforts to reduce stress in both work and home life.

Most importantly, while eating well and living a healthy lifestyle does help, it will not eliminate the chance of a prostate cancer diagnosis. Males over the age of 50 or with any risk factors should discuss prostate cancer with their doctor and be screened for the disease on an annual basis.

Click here to read the recent prostate cancer research